Local justice system to try pilot program

Bartholomew County is one of 18 counties in the country, and six in the state, taking part in a pilot program to try to better deal with substance abusers in the criminal justice system through evidence based decision making.

Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde said that the program is trying to see if dealing with drug addicts as a public health problem and not just as criminals will help reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for those in the system.

The first phase of the initiative is a revamping of the way suspects are screened when they are first arrested.

Bartholomew County Council this week approved a grant that will allow the county to hire two new pre-trial assessment officers to better screen those who are arrested and determine who might be at-risk. Brad Barnes, head of the county’s court-services department, explains the plan:

06-16 Brad Barnes-1

That grant will be for just over $124 thousand dollars. The new positions are tied to continued grant funding going forward.